Susan Schneider Williams
John R. Montgomery
David E. Kelley
Directed by Tylor Norwood; Story by Norwood and Scott Fitzloff
Robin’s Wish Review:
Between scrolling through streaming platforms, channel surfing on cable and looking at my personal collection of films, rarely a day goes by that I’m not reminded of the fact the world is without the warm and insanely talented Robin Williams and while it could’ve just worked as a documentary exploring his amazing later career, Tylor Norwood’s Robin’s Wish aims for higher intentions of looking at why we lost the Oscar winner too soon and the result is a powerful and rousing documentary.
Robin’s Wish tells the powerful true story of actor/comedian Robin Williams’ final days. For the first time, Robin’s fight against a deadly neurodegenerative disorder, known as Lewy Body Dementia, is shown in stunning detail. Through a gripping journalistic lens, this incredible story sheds an entirely new light on the tragedy, beauty, and power behind the mind of one of the greatest entertainers of all time
With a career as historic and celebrated as Williams’, the immediate question becomes just where is a filmmaker supposed to begin his tale? Does he begin with his college years at Juilliard learning more classical and dramatic acting or dive right into his stand up in San Francisco and Los Angeles? Norwood takes a more unique approach and instead begins just prior to the end, exploring the comedian’s final few days on Earth and his relationships with both his wife, neighbors, and friends before arriving at the devastating date of August 11, 2014, in which things take a more serious turn and we see the tragic aftermath of his death.
From the media circus that invaded the quiet neighborhood of Paradise City, California to the misinformation and uninformed reporting of the circumstances regarding Williams’ passing, Norwood expertly shines a light on all of these without necessarily villainizing any of the parties involved, but rather trying to play devil’s advocate to all as he gets to one of the key goals of the story: the real reason behind his death, Lewy Body Dementia.
While it would have been nice to see more time spent on the topic and the studies and research scientists are conducting to try and find a solution to the issue, Norwood displays that he has clearly put in the time and research into finding the appropriate experts on the topic and worked with them to shine the light on it for audiences in an easily comprehensible way. Some documentaries would offer audiences highly-technical words and impenetrable graphs and cellular imagery that viewers are just supposed to interpret as “that’s the science,” but Norwood and his interviewees keep things in layman terms and succinct that it allows us to grasp the material and its effect on the titular subject and others with it.
But when the film isn’t studying the science behind his demise, it extensively looks at the various happier elements of Williams’ life, bringing in a number of his friends and co-collaborators who share beautiful stories of his warm heart and charitable lifestyle. Seeing Williams in archive footage on stage at various comedy shows and at USO shows overseas, as well as visiting military hospitals to bring injured soldiers and veterans comfort in their most trying times is just one of the many things Norwood and the film does so well to get to the heart of their subject and his overall goal in life: to bring hope to others even if he himself suffered from a lack of it.
Admittedly it’s hard not to be a little biased coming into the documentary, given Williams’ extensive influence on my life and the amazing things he’s done over the years on screen and off, but even for those only mildly familiar with his career and his dedication to his fans and the general public, Norwood and the interviewees do a great job of highlighting the truly amazing man that he was and make it hard not to bring tears to viewers’ eyes over the course of its 77-minute runtime.
Though some of the science could’ve been better touched upon, Norwood displays a magnificent grip on telling the unknown and heartbreaking final days and months of Williams’ life in Robin’s Wish and is sure to be the love letter and final goodbye longtime fans and newcomers to his work need.